February 3, 2004



Australian Beef Exports To South Asia Down in 2003


Australian beef exports to almost all South Asian markets fell in 2003 to 67,788 tons amid tight supplies, high prices (partly due to the A$) and stronger demand from Japan and the US. In addition, Australia faces competition from cheap South American beef to beef importing countries such as Hong Kong, the Philippines and Singapore. 


Exports to Australia's largest South Asian market, Taiwan, fell 9% in 2003 to 31,119 tonnes.  Apart from the rising cost of Australian beef, 2003 exports to Taiwan were affected by a sluggish economy, the impact of SARS on consumer demand (particularly on the foodservice sector between March and June) and renewed demand for lower grade product from Japan and the US.  These factors offset the impact of falling tariffs and the continued absence of South American beef. 


Shipments to China fell 11%, to 2,120 tonnes.  Chilled beef shipments to the growing upper hotel sector in China, though still minor, rose 2% in 2003, to 120 tonnes.  Exports to Hong Kong fell 27% in 2003, to 2,120 tonnes.  This was due to falls in personal consumption spending (GDP growth of only 1.5%) and strong competition from South American product.  


In contrast, strong growth in domestic spending in Indonesia and greater economic and currency stability helped to maintain the beef trade at 12,994 tonnes. 


Continued sluggish consumer spending and competition from Brazilian and Argentinian product appear to be the key factors behind the weakening trade with the Philippines.  Beef exports to the Philippines fell 33% in 2003, to 8,576 tonnes, also 56% lower than in 2001. 


Australian beef exports to Singapore rose 4%, to 3,708 tonnes.  Growth in Australian exports remains restrained by strong competition in the frozen segment from Brazilian beef.


Shipments to Malaysia also fell 12% in 2003, to 6,524 tonnes, but remained above the 5,000-6,000 tonnes shipped prior to 2002.  Indian buffalo meat continues to dominate the frozen beef trade, with NZ also becoming more competitive in 2003. 


Australia dominates the small Malaysian chilled import market and this trade expanded by 40% in 2003 despite the high Australian prices, to 1,030 tonnes, or 15% of total exports to this market.

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